As you will have seen, the Prime Minister has agreed new arrangements with the EU for our departure from that body. I have been trying to absorb the details of the proposals, and have held discussions with various MPs, including the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The Commons will sit this Saturday to make a decision on whether to accept the proposals. If we do endorse the proposals, the UK can leave the EU on 31st October, providing that no other adverse legislation is passed by Parliament before then. If the Commons does not endorse the proposals and does not agree to leaving without a deal (as required by the so-called Benn Act), then the Prime Minister will be legally obliged to seek an extension of our membership until 31st January 2020. It would remain to be seen if this extension would be granted.
The arrangements being proposed by the Prime Minister are significantly better than those proposed earlier this year by the previous Prime Minister. However, a couple of items cause concern and I am working on seeking clarification and legal assurances on those. The first question is, once we have left, what length would the implementation period be and would the UK be able to fully end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over the UK at a time of our choosing, acting unilaterally, if no free trade deal is agreed during that implementation period?
And secondly, what effect would these arrangements have on Northern Ireland and what potential impact could they have on the unity of the United Kingdom with respect to the Province. At the moment, the DUP are opposing these arrangements because of their concerns. I am in communication with them.
I will post a further update as soon as possible.